TALMUD. The 8th Massekhet – Beitza

Tractate Yom Tov, better known as Beitza after its first word, deals with the general halakhot of Festivals. Whereas other tractates in Seder Mo’ed address the laws of Shabbat and the mitzvot that are specific to each of the major Festivals, this tractate deals with the laws common to all Festivals. These halakhot include the commandment to rest from work, in the form of positive and negative mitzvot that apply to all Festivals. They are derived from the verses “It shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of shofarot, a sacred convocation” (Vayikra 23:24) and “You shall do no manner of servile work” (Vayikra 23:7, 8). There is no difference between Shabbat and Festivals with regard to the basic definition of prohibited labor. On Festivals, as on Shabbat, the definition of labor is any action that entails creative work, performed intentionally. The details of the halakhot of prohibited labor on Festivals, and the decrees and enactments of the Sages to safeguard people from transgression and to emphasize the sanctity of the day, are very similar to the halakhot and enactments for the mitzva of rest and the prohibition against labor on Shabbat. Therefore, the main topics in this tractate can also be found in the tractates that deal with the laws of Shabbat, i.e. Shabbat and Eiruvin. Indeed, in terms of structure and content, tractate Beitza can be seen as a kind of addendum to Shabbat, not only in terms of the fundamental concepts but also with regard to the details of its halakhot:

This entry was posted in Beginner and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to TALMUD. The 8th Massekhet – Beitza

  1. Massekhet Beitza – An Introduction to the Tractate

    Tractate Yom Tov, better known as Beitza after its first word, deals with the general halakhot of Festivals. Whereas other tractates in Seder Mo’ed address the laws of Shabbat and the mitzvot that are specific to each of the major Festivals, this tractate deals with the laws common to all Festivals. These halakhot include the commandment to rest from work, in the form of positive and negative mitzvot that apply to all Festivals. They are derived from the verses “It shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of shofarot, a sacred convocation” (Vayikra 23:24) and “You shall do no manner of servile work” (Vayikra 23:7, 8). There is no difference between Shabbat and Festivals with regard to the basic definition of prohibited labor. On Festivals, as on Shabbat, the definition of labor is any action that entails creative work, performed intentionally. The details of the halakhot of prohibited labor on Festivals, and the decrees and enactments of the Sages to safeguard people from transgression and to emphasize the sanctity of the day, are very similar to the halakhot and enactments for the mitzva of rest and the prohibition against labor on Shabbat. Therefore, the main topics in this tractate can also be found in the tractates that deal with the laws of Shabbat, i.e. Shabbat and Eiruvin. Indeed, in terms of structure and content, tractate Beitza can be seen as a kind of addendum to Shabbat, not only in terms of the fundamental concepts but also with regard to the details of its halakhot. Consequently, this tractate addresses neither the sources of its halakhot nor the basic definitions of prohibited labor and the mitzva of rest. Its main focus is the elucidation of the differences between Shabbat and Festivals. The first distinction concerns the severity of the sin. The prohibition against performing labor on Shabbat is one of the most severe transgressions in the Torah. Conversely, the prohibition against performing labor on a Festival is not as severe; rather, it is a regular negative commandment, punishable by lashes. Furthermore, the scope of the prohibition is different. All labor is prohibited on Shabbat; on Festivals, the prohibition is limited to servile labor. On Festivals the Torah permits labor that is for the purpose of sustenance. The central topic of tractate Beitza is the elaboration and explication of this more limited prohibition against performing labor. It was clear to the Sages that not all acts of labor involved in the preparation of food are included in this leniency. The early authorities debate whether the exclusion of certain labors is a rabbinic decree to safeguard the Festival, or if its source is from the Torah itself. There is a fundamental distinction between labors that merely prepare items that can be processed into food, e.g., hunting, harvesting, and similar actions, and labors that actually prepare food for eating, such as cooking and baking. Although the Torah permitted labor for the purpose of sustenance on Festivals, the Sages deemed it necessary to create limits and restrictions on this halakha, both so that the sanctity of the Festivals would be preserved and to prevent a Festival from turning into a regular workday, albeit with a few restrictions. The concerns that led the Sages to limit the scope of permitted actions on a Festival, however, are counterbalanced by another consideration: On Festivals there is a special mitzva to be joyful, as stated in the Torah: “And you shall rejoice in your Festival…and you shall be altogether joyful” (Devarim 16:14-15). This joy, as evident from the context of this passage and its interpretation by the Sages, is expressed and actualized by means of eating, drinking, and wearing beautiful clothing, among other activities. Therefore, one must ensure that the restrictions on labor are not so great that they negate the joy of the Festival. The relationship between Shabbat and Festivals concerns not only the halakhic comparisons between them but also the problems that arrive when a Festival immediately follows or, especially, precedes Shabbat. Another issue that is specific to the halakhot of Festivals is the ancient enactment that people living outside Eretz Yisrael must observe the second Festival day of the Diaspora, in addition to the single day observed in Eretz Yisrael. This is a practice that began at a time when the difficulties of communication led to a situation in which many communities were not certain of the correct day of the holiday. The tradition is kept to this day for a variety of reasons discussed in our Gemara:

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3424

  2. Beitza 2a-b – An egg laid on a Festival

    One of the Rabbinic ordinances developed by the Sages to protect the sanctity of Shabbat and holidays is the rule forbidding moving objects that are considered muktze – that is, things that a person puts out of his mind and does not intend on using during Shabbat or Yom Tov. This can be done either by a conscious act or decision on the part of the person, or alternatively if the object is not usable for any activities that are permitted on Shabbat.

    Apart from this general statement, there are many differences in how muktze is defined. Some of the basic definitions are as follows:
    •Raw materials that are in a form that does not allow them to be used on Shabbat
    •Utensils whose sole use involves an activity that is forbidden on Shabbat
    •Objects that are not used because they are disgusting
    •Objects whose value is so great that they are used only for very specific tasks

    Other categories of muktze include things that a person actively sets aside so that they are not used on Shabbat, and nolad – something that could not have been prepared for use before Shabbat because it was “born” or came into existence only on Shabbat.

    It is this case of nolad that Massekhet Beitza opens with – beitzah she-noldah be-Yom Tov – an egg that was laid on the holiday and did not exist when Yom Tov began. Is it considered ready for use on the holiday, or will it be considered muktze since it did not exist beforehand?

    Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree on this point. Beit Shammai permits the use of the egg on Yom Tov, while Beit Hillel forbids it. The Gemara offers several different explanations for their disagreement, including the following:

    Rabba said: We are dealing with a chicken designated for food and we are dealing with an egg that was laid on a Festival that occurs after Shabbat, i.e., on a Sunday. And the relevant issue is not the halakhot of muktze; rather, one may not eat the egg due to the prohibition against preparation from Shabbat to a Festival.

    And in this regard, Rabba holds that any egg laid now was already fully developed yesterday, and merely emerged from the chicken today. Consequently, an egg laid on a Festival that occurred on a Sunday may not be eaten, as it was prepared on Shabbat, despite the fact that it was prepared naturally, by Heaven, rather than by man.

    Thus, Beit Hillel forbids use of the egg because it was prepared on Shabbat for use on Sunday (he also forbids it when Yom Tov falls on another day of the week, lest someone mistakenly permit it on Sunday, as well).

    It is not clear when exactly halakha considers an egg to be “completed,” but from a biological perspective, it takes almost exactly 24 hours from the time that the egg is released from the ovary of the chicken to the time that it completes the preparation process and is laid. Thus, Rabba is correct that every egg that is laid has been prepared from the day before.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger:

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3425

  3. Beitza 3a-b – Supporting a bed on an egg

    In discussing the use of a newly laid egg on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the Gemara quotes a baraita which teaches that using such an egg is forbidden; nevertheless it can be covered with a bowl to protect it and then it can be used when Shabbat or Yom Tov has ended. The examples given by the baraita of possible uses for the egg are of some interest – the baraita suggests that it might have been used to cover a utensil or to support a bed.

    Support a bed!? The rishonim were quick to ask why the baraita would suggest supporting a large, heavy object like a bed with an egg.

    In truth, mechanically speaking, the structure of an egg is, theoretically, very strong – strong enough to withstand enormous pressure without breaking, even though its shell is very thin. Practically, however, without a specially prepared apparatus, it would be impossible to have an egg actually support something large and heavy.

    Therefore, the logical approach to the baraita is the one suggested by the Me’iri and others. They explain that the “bed” referred to is not a bed that people sleep on, but rather a type of bowl or other utensil that is used on a table, which, because of its shape – some say that it has a rounded bottom like that of a small ship – needs to be supported by something. An egg, apparently, was the object of choice to hold up this “bed.”

    To support his theory, the Me’iri points out a word in Arabic for such a table utensil – hamta – which is similar to the Hebrew word for bed: ha-mitah. In Mishnayot Ma’asrot (1:9) we find the word hamita used in such a context, and the Rambam in his Perush ha-Mishnayot there translates the word as a small earthen vessel that is sometimes used on the table.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger:

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3426

  4. Beitza 4a-b – Second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora

    The Mishnah (2a) discussed whether an egg that is laid on Yom Tov can be used on that day, taking for granted that it can certainly be used once the holiday has ended. How about the situation, common in the Diaspora, where we celebrate two days of Yom Tov, one after another? Can an egg laid on the first day of Yom Tov be used on the second day?

    The Gemara teaches that this is the subject of a disagreement between Rav, who permits its use on the second day, and Rav Asi, who forbids it.

    Given the reality that, today, we operate with a set calendar, the basis for the continued tradition of keeping two days of Yom Tov in the Diaspora demands explanation. While Rav Saadia Ga’on writes that keeping a second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora is based on biblical law, Rav Hai Ga’on argues that he only said that as a response to heretics, but it should not be accepted as a true halakhic statement. His explanation is that although the second day was established for reasons of doubt (i.e. Diaspora communities oftentimes did not receive the information about the establishment of the new month until after the Yom Tov began), it was a rule already established by the prophets, which carries with it significant halakhic weight. The prophets needed to establish the second day because of the distance of Jewish communities from Israel, where the Sanhedrin sat and established the months based on testimony from witnesses.

    According to the Rambam in his Sefer Mitzvot, the calendar that we currently use is, itself, the establishment of the Sanhedrin, who, during the time of Hillel ha-Sheni, determined the beginning of every month. Indeed, the Ra’avan quotes the Sages of Magence as teaching that the two days of Yom Tov are not kept because of the question regarding the actual date of the holiday, but rather as a takkanah – a Rabbinic ordinance that the holiness of the Yom Tov extends for an extra day. This helps us understand why Diaspora Jews continue to recite the blessings for the holiday even on the second day, which we ordinarily would not do if the mitzvah were only being done mi-safek – for reasons of doubt.

    The Hatam Sofer writes that when we recite the blessing asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu – that we are fulfilling a commandment with this activity – the reference is not to the activities of the second day, but rather to the concept of the holiday, which is what we are truly commanded.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger:

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3427

  5. Beitza 5a-b – The second day of Rosh HaShana

    The discussion on yesterday’s daf (page) was whether a beitza she-noldah be-Yom Tov (an egg that was laid on the holiday) was considered muktze on the second day of the holiday in the Diaspora. Our discussion focused on why we still keep a second day even at a time when we work with a set calendar and no longer need to communicate the establishment of the new month to far-flung communities.

    The Gemara on our daf teaches that, on Rosh HaShana, all are in agreement that an egg laid the first day cannot be used on the second day, either. The Gemara points to a Mishnah in Rosh HaShana (30b) as the source for this rule. The Mishnah there told of an incident that took place in Jerusalem, where the witnesses who came to testify about the beginning of the month of Tishrei arrived in the late afternoon. By the time the Sanhedrin accepted their statement and announced that that day was Rosh HaShana, the service in the Temple had already begun and the Levi’im erred in the mizmor (Psalm) that they had begun singing. From that time on, two days of Rosh HaShana became normative, even in Israel.

    Rabba comments that following the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, the concern about mistakes in the Temple service no longer existed, pointing out that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai once again accepted testimony about Rosh Hodesh Tishrei all day.

    Abaye said to him: But didn’t Rav and Shmuel both say that an egg [on the second day of Rosh HaShana] is prohibited? Rabba said to him: Your question is out of place; I say to you a statement in the name of the distinguished tanna Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and you say to me a ruling of the amora’im Rav and Shmuel?

    The Gemara asks: And according to the opinion of Rav and Shmuel, isn’t it true that the mishna is difficult, as it indicates that the special status of Rosh HaShana has been revoked? The Gemara answers that this is not difficult: This ruling is for us, those who live outside of Eretz Yisrael, who have kept the ancient custom of observing two Festival days, and therefore Rosh HaShana is still considered one long day and constitute a single sanctity. Conversely, that ruling of the mishna is for them, the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael.

    The simple reading of this Gemara seems to imply that, in Israel, only one day of Rosh HaShana is celebrated (see Rashi, who clearly understands the Gemara this way). The Ge’onim of Babylon, as well as the Ri”f and others, argue that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai did not change the basic rule, and even during his time Rosh ha-Shana was kept as a two day holiday. Nevertheless, other rishonim, including the Ramban and Rabbenu Efra’im, rule that in Israel only one day is kept, not only in the immediate vicinity of the Sanhedrin that establishes the new month, but in all of Israel, since we now rely on a set calendar.

    There is historical evidence which seems to indicate that Rosh HaShana was kept for only one day in Israel until immigrants from Provence came and changed the tradition. Today the accepted practice is to celebrate Rosh HaShana for two days in Israel as well as in the Diaspora.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3428

  6. Beitza 6a-b – If someone dies on Yom Tov

    Rava teaches that if someone dies on Yom Tov and needs to be buried, non-Jews are brought to make the preparations and do the burial if it is the first day of Yom Tov; on the second day of Yom Tov, we allow Jews to do whatever is necessary. This is true not only on Pesah, Shavu’ot and Sukkot, but also on Rosh HaShana, when, as we learned yesterday, the second day is considered an extension of the first.

    The leniency connected with funerals stems from the Jewish attitude towards burial as an issue of kavod ha-beri’ot – basic human dignity, both for the deceased and for the family of the deceased. The Sages of the Talmud state unequivocally that kavod ha-beri’ot pushes aside Rabbinic laws of lo tasur (see Devarim 17:11); that is to say, many prohibitions established by Sages can be dispensed with since the mitzvah of burying the dead takes precedence.

    Based on this, Rava teaches that on the first day of the holiday – when all melakhot are biblically forbidden for a Jew to perform, and asking a non-Jew to perform those activities is forbidden by the Sages – we permit a non-Jew to do whatever is necessary for the burial. On the second day of the holiday, which is, in its entirety, of Rabbinic origin, we dispense with all prohibitions connected with the funeral, as having Jews take care of the burial is considered to be an honor to the deceased.

    Given the importance given to these ceremonies, the Me’iri asks why we do not permit funerals to take place on Shabbat or Yom Kippur, on the condition that all forbidden activities be performed by non-Jews. He answers that the high level of holiness connected with those holidays led the Sages to establish their ordinances on those days as being on level with biblical prohibitions that cannot be pushed aside.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3429

  7. Beitza 7a-b – Ritual slaughter on Yom Tov

    We have learned that activities that are essential for food preparation are permitted on Yom Tov, based on Shmot 12:16. Among the activities that are part-and-parcel of preparing a holiday meal is shehitah – ritual slaughter – without which fresh meat would not be available. [It should be noted that modern innovations such as refrigeration have relegated shehitah to commercial slaughterhouses, and the kosher kitchen rarely deals directly with such halakhot.]

    Some animals – specifically fowl and undomesticated animals – require a ritual called kissuy ha-dam, covering the blood of the slaughtered animal (see Vayikra 17:13). The Mishnah (2a) takes for granted that a person can, theoretically, slaughter an animal for its meat on Yom Tov, but what should be done about covering the blood? Plowing and other types of digging are forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov; the act of covering the blood – while an important mitzvah in connection with the act of shehitah – cannot be considered an essential part of food preparation.

    The Mishnah records a disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on this issue. Beit Shammai recommends allowing shehitah by lifting a deker that is already in the ground, allowing the dirt to fall onto the blood, thus fulfilling the requirement of kissuy ha-dam. According to Beit Hillel, a person should not slaughter an animal that requires kissuy ha-dam unless he has dirt prepared from before Yom Tov with which to cover the blood – although they agree that if a person has already slaughtered the animal, then Beit Shammai’s method can be used.

    The term deker, used by Beit Shammai to describe the implement that may be used to cover the blood, is the subject of some disagreement among the rishonim. The Arukh defines it as a bar with a sharpened end. Rashi and others describe it as a spade.

    The Re’ah explains that even Beit Shammai agrees that there has to be some level of preparation prior to the holiday for covering the blood. Thus he does not permit digging, rather making use of an implement that already was in the ground.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3430

  8. Beitza 8a-b – Slaughtering a koy on Yom Tov

    On yesterday’s daf (page) we were introduced to the mitzvah of kissuy ha-dam – the obligation to cover the blood of fowl or undomesticated animals that are slaughtered (see Vayikra 17:13). Thus, someone who performs shehitah (ritual slaughter) on chicken or venison would be obligated to cover the blood, whereas shehitah on cattle – e.g. cows, sheep, goats – would not be obligated in this mitzvah.

    The Gemara on our daf introduces a koy – an animal that has the features of both a wild animal and a domesticated one – and rules that such an animal cannot be slaughtered on Yom Tov, since it is not clear whether slaughtering a koy obligates the shohet in kissuy ha-dam. Were it not Yom Tov, we could simply cover the blood without reciting the blessing. Since it is Yom Tov, however, we cannot permit a melakhah to be done if there is doubt as to whether it is truly an obligation in this case.

    Identifying the koy is a difficult task. Even though it is mentioned many times in the Mishnah and Talmudic literature, that is not because it is a common animal, rather because its status between a wild and domesticated animal allows it to be a test case for many halakhot. The disagreement as to its identification began in the time of the Mishnah, when some of the Sages argued that it is the offspring of a deer or similar animal with a goat. Others claim that it is a unique type of animal – an Ayal ha-bar.

    The Ayal ha-bar can be identified with the ovis musimon, which, according to many, is the forerunner of domesticated cattle. It is distinguished by its short hair and grey color, and it lives in mountainous regions, where it is a nimble climber – today mainly in uninhabited areas in Europe. It is likely that the clear similarities between a koy and a sheep, together with its being a wild animal, led to the Sages’ confusion about its classification.

    Its name – koy – and even the pronunciation of the name, are themselves the subject of disagreement.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3431

  9. Beitza 9a-b – The appearance of prohibition

    The new Mishnah on our daf (page) brings yet another disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on the topic of food preparation on Yom Tov. If a person needs to climb up into a dovecote to bring down doves for food, Beit Shammai forbids moving a ladder from one dovecote to another, although he can shift it from one opening to another in the same dovecote. Beit Hillel permits even moving the ladder for one dovecote to another.

    Rav Hanan bar Ami argues that the only disagreement is in public, when Beit Shammai is concerned with marit ayin. He is afraid that people will think that the ladder is being moved to assist in painting the roof – an activity forbidden on Yom Tov – while Beit Hillel is not concerned about that, since the dovecote indicates that the true nature of his activity is a permitted one. Were the dovecote in a private area, where there is no concern that someone will see and draw the wrong conclusion, even Beit Shammai permits moving the ladder.

    The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn’t Rav Yehuda say that Rav said: Wherever the Sages prohibited an action due to the appearance of prohibition [marit ayin], even if one performs the act in his innermost chamber, where no one will see it, it is prohibited.

    While our Gemara suggests that the tanna’im differ regarding this position, the Talmud Yerushalmi quotes a series of Mishnayot that clearly distinguish between activities done in public – which are forbidden – and in private – which are permitted, based upon which, the Yerushalmi rejects Rav’s teaching entirely. The Rashba and others suggest that there is room to differentiate between cases where there is suspicion of an act that is truly forbidden (like our case where painting the roof is forbidden on Yom Tov) and cases where people mistakenly think that a given action is forbidden. In the latter cases the Sages forbade performing such an action publicly, but permitted it to be done in private.

    The Rambam rules that marit ayin applies even in private, and explains that our Mishnah is a unique case where the Sages were lenient in order to encourage joyous celebration of the holiday.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3432

  10. Beitza 10a-b – Setting animals aside for use on Yom Tov

    Generally speaking, animals are considered muktze on Shabbat and Yom Tov. That is to say, farm animals whose normal activities are associated with melakhot – activities forbidden on those days – cannot be used. Thus, in the event that an animal is to be slaughtered for food on Yom Tov, it must be prepared or set aside for such use prior to the beginning of the holiday.

    The Mishnayot on our daf (page) discuss doves that are set aside for food on Yom Tov. Beit Shammai rules that the doves must actually be handled to indicate that they have been chosen, while according to Beit Hillel it is enough to choose them by making a statement about which ones you want. It is interesting to note that in this case, all agree that the concept of muktze exists, apparently because animals are similar to the case of drying fruit, which – as we will see at the end of the tractate – is something that everyone agrees is muktze. In the case of drying fruit, once the fruit is put out to become dried it is clear to everyone that it has been set aside and will not be eaten – or even touched – until the drying process is complete. A similar idea exists in our case, where animals are set aside specifically for work (in the case of doves, they are usually raised to be trained as homing pigeons or carrier pigeons), and cannot be used for another purpose without a clear statement before the holiday.

    The Re’ah points out that this is true only of animals like doves that are not specifically raised to be used for food. Chickens or geese, for example, which are raised for slaughter, would not require such preparation. Nevertheless, according to the Yam Shel Shlomo it is appropriate to choose specific chickens or geese before Yom Tov and set them aside, as well, if they are to be slaughtered on Yom Tov.

    An obvious question that comes up regarding the Gemara’s discussion of this matter is whether a person can announce before Yom Tov that the entire dovecote is set aside for slaughter for food on the holiday. Making such an announcement does not obligate one to use all of the doves, and would solve the Gemara’s concerns with which birds were actually prepared. The Rashba argues that someone who makes such a statement can successfully avoid all problems. Rabbenu Peretz, Rabbenu Yeruham and others say that this cannot be done because no one who raises doves would plan to destroy his entire dovecote, so the statement cannot be taken seriously.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3433

  11. Beitza 11a-b – Using a pestle on Yom Tov

    Another case of muktze that is discussed by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel is the case of an eli – a board of sorts that was ordinarily used to grind or crush things that cannot be done on Yom Tov. Can such a pestle be used for permitted food preparation – e.g. cutting meat – on Yom Tov, or is it considered muktze and cannot be moved?

    In the Mishnah, Beit Shammai forbids the use of an eli, while Beit Hillel permits its use.

    Tosafot ask why the eli cannot be used according to Beit Shammai. Although the ordinary use of the eli is for acts that are forbidden on Yom Tov, this appears to be a case of a keli she-melakhto le-issur, le-tzorekh gufo – it is an implement which is ordinarily used for a forbidden purpose (which would make it muktze) for its own self – i.e. for another, permitted, purpose. Ordinarily such use – like cracking nuts with a hammer – is not considered muktze and would be permitted on Yom Tov. This question also appears in the Talmud Yerushalmi, which offers an answer similar to Tosafot, that this eli is muktze for other reasons beyond its being a utensil used for activities forbidden on Yom Tov. The additional source of muktze might be that it is a valuable implement which is muktze mahamat hisaron kis – because of its value – and cannot be used for another purpose (Tosafot) or it is a large utensil that has a specific place set aside and is not really used for purposes other than its central function (Tosafot R”id). According to this answer, Beit Hillel, who permits its use, does so only because they are lenient in order to encourage simhat Yom Tov – to enhance the joyousness of the holiday.

    The Me’iri gives a different explanation to the Mishnah. According to him, Beit Shammai forbids use of the eli because is appears to be a ma’aseh hol – a weekday activity – something that is not accepted by Beit Hillel.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3434

  12. Beitza 12a-b – Carrying on Yom Tov

    As we have learned on the previous pages of Massekhet Beitza, the passage that forbids work on Yom Tov specifically permits those activities that are essential for food preparation for the holiday (see Shmot 12:16). Aside from activities that are directly related to food preparation, like cooking and baking, it is generally accepted that carrying from one place to another is also essential – to bring ingredients or prepared food to the house of a neighbor.

    In the Mishnah on our daf (page) we learn that Beit Shammai forbids carrying a child, a lulav or a sefer Torah into the public domain, while Beit Hillel permits them to be moved from one place to another. The Gemara explains that Beit Hillel rules kevan she-hutra le-tzorekh, hutra nami she-lo le-tzorekh – once carrying is permitted for the sake of food preparation on Yom Tov, it is permitted even for reasons aside from that of food preparation. Beit Shammai rejects this line of reasoning.

    Even Beit Hillel would agree that there needs to be some purpose in carrying in order for it to be permitted on Yom Tov; lugging around rocks is forbidden even according to Beit Hillel. The purpose can be the needs of a mitzvah – like carrying a lulav to the synagogue or a sefer Torah to study from, or the needs of simhat Yom Tov, enhancing the joyousness of the holiday. Rabbenu Tam explains that a child can be taken outside because staying at home, or leaving family members behind, would detract from the simhat Yom Tov of both the child and his parents.

    Rabbenu Hananel explains that all of the cases in the Mishnah are referring to situations where the object needs to be carried for the purpose of a mitzvah – the child needs to be circumcised, the lulav to be shaken during Hallel in the synagogue, the sefer Torah to be read from. Rashi, however, interprets the cases to be any need, even if it is not specifically a mitzvah.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  13. Beitza 13a-b – Distributing tithes

    When a farmer harvests his crop, the Torah obligates him to offer a series of tithes to the kohanim and levi’im as well as to the poor.

    Among these tithes we find:

    •Terumah gedolah – contribution to the kohen, which biblically can be any amount (the Sages recommended 1/40, 1/50 or 1/60 of the harvest)
    •Ma’aser rishon – one-tenth of the remaining crop, which is given to the levi
    •Terumat ma’aser – the levi gives to the kohen one-tenth of the ma’aser rishon that he received

    Although terumah gedolah does not need to be measured, since it can be any amount, how is one to measure the harvest in order to assure that the correct amount is distributed for ma’aser rishon and terumat ma’aser? The Talmud Yerushalmi offers three acceptable options:

    •Good: Moneh – the number of bushels harvested are counted
    •Better: Moded – the harvest is measured
    •Best: Shokel – the harvest is weighed

    Our Gemara brings the opinion of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel who quotes the passage in Bamidbar 18:27 and interprets it as meaning that there are two types of terumah, both of which can be distributed based on estimation and intent. This opinion is accepted as the halakhah by the Rambam (Hilkhot Terumot 3:4), who rules that it is a mitzvah to distribute terumah gedolah based on estimation rather than by weighing or measuring it. The Me’iri applies this ruling to terumat ma’aser, as well, arguing that it is the responsibility of the levi to be sure that he estimates generously so that the kohen will receive no less that 10% of the ma’aser rishon that the levi received.

    This teaching of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel is the only one that has been preserved, although due to its importance it appears several times in the Talmud. In the Sifrei the name appears as Abba Elazar ben Gamliel and the contraction to “Gimmel”, “Gomel” and “Gamla” (as it appears in other sources) appears to be a nickname of sorts. He appears to have been a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva; during that period the title “Abba” was the honorific title given to a number of Sages.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  14. Beitza 14a-b – Salt and spices

    We have already established that, based on the passage in Shmot 12:16, food preparation is permitted on Yom Tov. The Mishnah on our daf (page) discusses the preparation of spices and salt. We find that Beit Shammai insist that some change be made in the way spices are ground up (grinding is one of the activities ordinarily forbidden on Shabbat), while Beit Hillel allow grinding to be done normally. Both agree, however, that salt should be ground in an out-of-the-ordinary way – by using a wooden pestle rather than the standard stone pestle.

    What is the reason for this? Rav Huna and Rav Hisda disputed this issue. One of them said: Everyone knows that all dishes require salt, and therefore one should prepare salt the day before the Festival. Since he failed to do so, this task may be performed on the Festival only in an unusual manner. But not all dishes require spices, and therefore it is possible that on the day prior to the Festival, one was not aware that he would require spices on the Festival.

    And the other one said a different reason: All spices lose their flavor and cannot be prepared ahead of time, and salt does not lose its flavor, which means one could have prepared it the day before. Since he neglected to do so, he may prepare salt on the Festival only in an unusual manner.

    The discussion that takes place in the rishonim revolves around the question of how we are to regard salt: Is salt considered a food, or is it merely an ingredient that is used in preparing food – makhshi’rei okhel nefesh? If it is the latter, then we can well understand that it cannot be prepared in the normal way, since makhshi’rei okhel nefesh are not included in the things that are permitted based on Shmot 12:16. If, however, salt is considered food, then why should we not permit it to be prepared as it always is?

    The Ran and Re’ah suggest that salt is different than other foods because it is not usually ground at home in small quantities. Ordinarily salt is prepared commercially and ground up in large amounts, and such preparation appears to be a weekday activity – a ma’aseh hol – which is why a change in the method of preparation is required.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  15. Beitza 15a-b – When tefillin are inappropriate

    Although it is common practice today to wear tefillin just for the morning prayer service of shaharit, in the time of the Gemara it was commonplace for people to wear tefillin throughout the day. Nevertheless, there are times when wearing tefillin is inappropriate – for example on Shabbat and Yom Tov, or at night.

    As a segue from the Mishnah’s mention of carrying tefillin on Yom Tov, our Gemara quotes two halakhot about tefillin:

    1. If a person is wearing tefillin while traveling and the sun sets, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.

    2. If a person is wearing tefillin while studying in the beit midrash and Shabbat begins, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.

    Rashi explains that both cases are discussing scenarios in which Shabbat begins while the man is wearing tefillin. Tosafot and other rishonim point to the change in expression (the sun sets vs. Shabbat begins) and argue that there are two distinct cases being discussed. In the first case, the traveler finds that nightfall has arrived and he should not be wearing tefillin; in the second case the man studying finds that Shabbat has begun and that he should not be wearing tefillin. Rabbenu Peretz defends Rashi’s reading of the Gemara by explaining that the traveler is outside and immediately ascertains that it is dark, while the individual in the beit midrash may not realize that the day has ended until much later.

    The issue with regard to the beit midrash is, apparently, the fact that the study halls were often situated outside of the city limits. We therefore find many situations in the Gemara where people are afraid to leave the beit midrash at night without others accompanying them. It is possible that the batei midrash were built in this way in order to divide the cost of the building and upkeep between a number of communities, or to allow the residents of small, outlying villages to have ready access to the study hall.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  16. Beitza 16a-b – Preparing for Shabbat

    The second chapter of Massekhet Beitza, which begins on the last daf, or page (15b), focuses on preparations for Shabbat and Yom Tov. The Mishnah deals specifically with the case of Yom Tov falling out on Friday, when it is necessary to prepare for Shabbat on a day that has its own restrictions regarding food preparations and other melakhot.

    The Gemara on our daf brings a well-known disagreement between Hillel and Shammai. Shammai would prepare for Shabbat every day of the week in the following manner: Each time a delicacy came his way, he would purchase it and set it aside for Shabbat. If he found something better in the course of the week, he would replace the original delicacy with the new-found one, and eat the first one. In that way, his meals – not only on Shabbat, but throughout the week – were eaten with Shabbat in mind. Hillel, on the other hand, did all of his activities for the sake of heaven, quoting the passage in Tehillim (68:20), “Blessed be the Lord, day by day…”

    While Shammai’s behavior is fairly easy to understand, Hillel’s demands some explanation.

    Rashi explains that Hillel had full faith in God and was certain that He would make sure that all of the food and other Shabbat needs would be made available for him. Thus, he did not spend time and effort preparing for Shabbat on his own. The R”i Abohav explains that all of Hillel’s activities throughout the week were with Shabbat in mind, so there was no need for him to announce that a specific purchase was for Shabbat.

    The Hatam Sofer argues that Hillel devoted his entire life to the service of God, so that everything that he did (and not only specific acts of mitzvah) was with the intention to fulfill God’s desire. As such, all of his activities – even his apparently mundane weekday activities – were infused with intentions of mitzvah.

    The general agreement among rishonim and aharonim is that, in this case, it is Shammai who should be emulated, not Hillel. In many places, Shammai’s tradition is quoted as normative and praised (see, for example, Rashi’s commentary to the Torah, Shmot 20:8), while Hillel’s is seen as appropriate only for people with a unique level of faith – and inappropriate for the average person.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  17. Beitza 17a-b – Preparing an eiruv tavshilin

    We learned in the Mishnah (15b) that when Yom Tov falls out on Friday, preparation for Shabbat can be done only if an eiruv tavshilin is prepared before Yom Tov begins. The Ra’avad explains that the idea of the eiruv tavshilin – literally “a combination of foods” – is to prepare a meal for Shabbat at a time when it is permissible, and then food that is made on Yom Tov can be combined with that food in preparation for Shabbat. Beit Shammai are quoted in the Mishnah as requiring two types of food for the eiruv tavshilin, while Beit Hillel require just one. All are in agreement that fish with an egg on it is considered adequate.

    While this last comment seems obvious, the suggestion is that perhaps this is considered one dish, and it should not be enough for Beit Shammai. The R”id explains that this refers to fish eggs – kosher caviar – which at first glance may not appear to be a separate food. The Me’iri explains Beit Shammai’s requirement of two foods as a symbolic meal prepared for Shabbat, for which a single item of food would not suffice.

    The Gemara on our daf (page) quotes a baraita that has a different tradition with regard to the opinions of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. According to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel agree that the eiruv tavshilin requires two foods; their argument is over whether a single dish, like fish prepared with egg, meets the requirement. Beit Shammai insists that two separate foods be prepared, while Beit Hillel rules that such a dish meets the requirement.

    Rava concludes the discussion by ruling that we follow Beit Hillel according to the version found in the Mishnah. Thus, an eiruv tavshilin really only requires a single prepared food. Nevertheless, the tradition is to use a cooked food together with bread or matzah, which would fulfill the requirement according to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar’s opinion, as well (see the Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 627:2).

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  18. Beitza 18a-b – Immersing on Shabbat to prepare for Yom Tov

    During Temple times, those who were fulfilling the mitzvah of aliya la-regel – pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu’ot and Sukkot – needed to immerse themselves in a mikveh in order to ensure a high level of ritual purity. What happened when Yom Tov fell out on Sunday? Could the immersion be done on Shabbat in preparation for the holiday?

    The Mishnah (17b) teaches that Beit Shammai insisted that, in such a case, immersions had to be done before Shabbat. Beit Hillel allowed people to go to the mikveh on Shabbat, but rule that any utensils that were needed had to be immersed before Shabbat.

    Many explanations are offered in the Gemara as to why Beit Hillel differentiated between a person and his utensils. According to Rava, immersing a utensil appears to be tikkun keli – fixing the utensil – which is forbidden on Shabbat, while a person appears to be simply cooling himself off. The Gemara argues that even on Yom Kippur, when bathing is ordinarily forbidden, such an immersion would be permitted since it is permitted on Shabbat, as well. The Re’ah explains that this logic is based on the fact that bathing on Yom Kippur is forbidden only when it is solely for pleasure, which is not the case when someone immerses in the mikveh for reasons of ritual purity.

    We learn in a mishna: One who is concerned about pain in his teeth may not sip vinegar through them on Shabbat in order to alleviate his toothache; however, he may dip his food in vinegar in his usual manner during the meal and eat it, and if he is healed by the vinegar, he is healed.

    In this parallel case brought by the Gemara, there is an activity that would be forbidden, but when done under circumstances where appearances indicate that it is being done for another reason, it is permitted. This Mishnah in Shabbat (111a) teaches that someone with a toothache cannot sip vinegar on Shabbat because of the Rabbinic ruling that medicine cannot be taken on Shabbat except in cases of danger to life. If, however, he is eating bread, he can dip his bread into the vinegar and eat it, even though it will have the same effect, since this appears to simply be an act of dining.

    Vinegar was a popular remedy for toothaches in Talmudic times. When a person has a cavity – particularly when the nerve becomes exposed – vinegar is a painful drink, indeed (see Mishlei 10:26). However, when the gums are irritated, or when fluid builds up in the gums, vinegar can offer relief by lowering the osmotic pressure.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

  19. Beitza 19a-b – Sacrifices on Yom Tov

    In our discussions of food preparation on Yom Tov, we have learned that even though several of the 39 forbidden activities on Shabbat are basic to food preparation, they are permitted on Yom Tov based on the passage in Shmot 12:16. How about sacrifices brought in the Temple? Obviously, korbanot that are part of the commandments of the day must be brought, but what about other sacrifices?

    During Temple times, a person who fulfilled the mitzvah of aliya la-regel – pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu’ot and Sukkot – would bring with him the korbanot that he was obligated to sacrifice. This included sacrifices unique to the particular holiday, as well as those that he had promised to bring over the course of the previous months. The hagigah (festival offering) was a korban shelamim that was brought by every individual at some point during the holiday (not necessarily on the day of Yom Tov itself). As with any korban shelamim, part of it was sacrificed on the altar, while much of it was eaten by the kohanim and the owner of the korban. Another sacrifice that was brought was the olat re’iyah, which a person was obligated to bring every time he came to the mikdash. This korban also could be brought throughout the holiday, but like any korban olah, it was burned on the mizbe’ah in its entirety, with no part of it eaten by anyone.

    In the Mishnah on our daf (page), Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree about whether various sacrifices can be brought on Yom Tov. According to Beit Shammai, a korban olah, which is totally burned up, cannot be brought. A korban shelmaim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, they forbid performing semikha on the animal. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday, even through there is no obligation to bring them on the actual Yom Tov. They also permit semikha on both.

    The mitzvah of semikha appears in connection with many korbanot (see, for example Vayikra 1:4). It involves having the owner of the sacrifice place both of his hands on the animal’s head between the horns and lean against it with all of his strength. For sacrifices where confession (viduy) was said, semikha was the time to do it. Since semikha was done with force, it was considered by Beit Shammai to be making use of the animal – similar to riding an animal – which is forbidden by the Sages on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

    Rashi’s explanation of Beit Shammai’s opinion is that they do not reject the mitzvah of semikha on Yom Tov; rather, they require the semikha to be done before Yom Tov begins and are not concerned with the time lapse between the semikha and the shehita.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3442

  20. Beitza 20a-b – Sacrifices on Yom Tov – II

    We learned in the Mishnah (19a) that Beit Shammai restricted the kinds of sacrifices that could be brought on Yom Tov to those that are obligatory on those days, while Beit Hillel permit all types of sacrifices to be brought.

    Hillel and Shammai lived at the end of the second Temple period, so their disagreement is not one that involves only theoretical principles, but practical ones, as well.

    The Sages taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Hillel the Elder, who brought his burnt-offering to the Temple courtyard in order to place his hands on the animal’s head on a Festival. The students of Shammai the Elder gathered around him and said to him: What is the nature of this animal that you are bringing? Hillel, being humble and meek, did not want to quarrel with them in the Temple and therefore concealed the truth from them for the sake of peace. He said to them: It is a female, and I have brought it as a peace-offering, as burnt-offerings are always male. He swung its tail for them so that they would not be able to properly discern whether the animal was male or female, and they departed.

    A korban olah (burnt-offering) is totally burned on the altar, and none of it is eaten – neither by the kohanim nor by the person who brings it. A korban shelamim (peace-offering) is a sacrifice where part is offered on the altar, but there are also parts that are eaten by the kohanim and by the owner. According to Shammai, a korban olah cannot be brought on Yom Tov. A korban shelamim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday. Hillel’s conciliatory stand taken in our baraita led to a situation where the students of Shammai were ready to claim victory and have the final ruling on this matter follow Shammai’s teaching.

    At that moment, Bava ben Buta, one of Shammai’s students who recognized that Hillel’s position was the accepted one, stepped forward and arranged for a large number of choice cattle to be brought to the Temple. He called upon the onlookers to perform semikha on the animals and bring them as sacrifices, which was a public admission that Hillel’s position was to be accepted. From that time on there was no longer any debate on this matter.

    The Talmud Yerushalmi relates the story in a slightly different manner, reporting that Hillel’s modesty almost led to the acceptance of Shammai’s position. At that moment the Temple emptied of korbanot, since no one was willing to come to sacrifice. This led Bava ben Buta to curse the people who brought on this situation, saying “the houses of these people should be made desolate, just as they made desolate the house of our Lord.” He then ordered 3,000 cattle brought and announced that people should resume bringing sacrifices, so that the mikdash should not stand empty on Yom Tov.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3443

  21. Beitza 21a-b – Cooking for non-Jews on Yom Tov

    Rav Huna was asked to rule on the following question: when the government requires villagers to bake for soldiers who are stationed in the area, are they permitted to do so on Yom Tov?

    Rav Huna ruled that it would be permitted to bake for the soldiers if the bakers were permitted to give bread to the Jewish children who were around, as well. In such a case, every loaf of bread could be seen as potentially being baked for the children. If the soldiers were careful that none of the bread be given away, and insisted that it all be delivered to the soldiers, then it would be forbidden to bake for them.

    The Gemara challenges Rav Huna’s lenient ruling: But isn’t it taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Shimon the Timnite, who did not come on the night of the Festival to the study hall. In the morning, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava found him and said to him: Why did you not come last night to the study hall? He said to him: A military unit on a search mission [balleshet] came to our city and wanted to pillage the entire city. We slaughtered a calf in order to placate them, and we fed them with it and had them depart in peace.

    Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava objected to this story, pointing out that the passage permitting cooking on Yom Tov (Shmot 12:16) only allows it lahem – for you – not for non-Jews. As the Gemara explains, in this case the animal that was prepared for the balleshet was not kosher, so it could not have been eaten by Jews and the entire preparation was for non-Jews only.

    The term balleshet apparently refers to an army unit that was sent to search for valuables (the root b-l-sh means to search). Usually these units were employed in enforcing payment of taxes, which made it essential for the local communities to stay on good terms with them, since their broad mandate often allowed them to stray well beyond their official tasks into violence and looting.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3444

  22. Beitza 22a-b – Medical treatment of the eyes on Yom Tov

    The Gemara on our daf (page) discusses whether eye diseases can be treated on Yom Tov. As the Gemara points out, in situations of potentially life-threatening danger it is obvious that any treatment can be done; the issue at hand is whether treatments to improve vision or minor ailments can be used.

    Medical treatment of the eyes has a long history, since such conditions were common in the Middle East due to an abundance of sand and insects that carried diseases. Archaeologists have found instruments used in surgical operations on the eye from the Talmudic period. The discussion in our Gemara, however, deals with the application of salves or creams that were inserted into the eye by means of a mik’hol – a tiny spoon that was also used for applying cosmetics.

    The Gemara leaves this question as a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbanan (rabbis). Ameimar, however, permitted the application of salves on the eye on Yom Tov if it was done by a non-Jew. In response to Rav Ashi’s objection that a non-Jew could only be employed to perform such an activity if the Jew does not assist him – and in the case of inserting a cream into the eye, the patient must be playing an assisting role – Ameimar argues that mesayei’ah ein bo mamash – that merely assisting is not considered an act of significance.

    It is difficult to claim that mesayei’ah ein bo mamash since there are many instances in the Talmud that even the person assisting in a given case is considered to have played a significant role. Rabbi Akiva Eiger suggests that a distinction must be made between cases where the mesayei’ah participates in the activity (where such participation would be forbidden) and where he merely allows the activity to take place, like in our case where opening and closing the eye allows the medicine to be applied.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3445

  23. Beitza 23a-b – Eating roasted meat at the seder

    The Mishnah (22b) teaches that Rabban Gamliel rules leniently on three issues concerning Yom Tov. He permitted the floors to be swept (he was not concerned that sweeping the floor would fill in holes), he allowed incense to be burned and he encouraged people to eat a roasted goat on the night of the Passover seder.

    The Gemara on our daf (page) discusses the case of the Passover seder, which was a point of disagreement because the other Sages felt that it looked too much like the actual Pesah sacrifice. The question at hand was: following the destruction of the Temple, what is the best course of action? Should we eat meat at the seder roasted in commemoration of the Passover sacrifice that had to be roasted (see Shmot 12:8-9) or would doing so present a problem because it would appear that the sacrifice was being eaten outside the precincts of Jerusalem?

    It is taught in a baraita in this regard that Rabbi Yosei says: Theodosius [Todos] of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat whole kids on the night of Passover, in commemoration of the practice followed in the Temple. The Sages sent a message to him: Were you not Theodosius, an important person, we would have decreed ostracism upon you , as you are feeding the Jewish people consecrated food, which may be eaten only in and around the Temple itself, outside the Temple.

    The Gemara in Pesahim (53a) asks whether the reluctance to place Todos under ban stemmed from the fact that he was a talmid hakham, or, perhaps, because he was a powerful figure who could not be punished. The Hatam Sofer points out that this is not merely a theoretical question, but a practical one from which we can deduce that a talmid hakham should not be punished for making an error, but should simply be warned about it.

    In response, the Gemara in Pesahim offers two stories about him.

    The first story quotes Todos as teaching an aggadic homily, in which he explained the actions of Hananiah, Misha’el and Azariah who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace (see Daniel chapter 3 ) by comparing their situation to that of the frogs of the second of the ten plagues in Egypt who willingly jumped into burning ovens (see Shmot 7:28). According to this story, since we have records of Todos teaching Torah publicly, apparently he was a scholar.

    Rabbi Yosei bar Avin relates the second story, that Todos was someone who supported Torah scholars by lending money or merchandise to them, thus allowing them to support themselves. It should be noted that the Rambam lists eight levels of charity (see Rambam Hilkhot Matnot Aniyim 10:7) ranging from giving a hand-out to a poor person to offering assistance in a secretive way. The highest level enumerated is someone who enters into a partnership with a poor person, allowing him to become self-sufficient, which, apparently, was Todos’ relationship with the Torah scholars in his community.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3446

  24. Beitza 24a-b – Eating a captured animal on Yom Tov

    As we have learned, food preparation on Yom Tov is permitted based on the passage in Shmot (12:16). Nevertheless, this permits only activities that are directly related to cooking and preparing the food. Capturing an animal, for example, is too far removed from the food preparation to be permitted on Yom Tov. The third perek (chapter) of Massekhet Beitza, which began on the last daf (page) (23b), focuses on the question of how we define tzayid – hunting. Specifically the Sages try to define under what circumstances an animal is considered to be in one’s possession to the extent that it is ready to be prepared for food.

    Mishna: If traps for animals, birds and fish were set on the eve of a Festival, one may not take anything from them on the Festival, unless he knows that the animals found in the traps had already been caught on the eve of the Festival.

    The Gemara discusses nets or traps and how we can determine whether they captured their prey before the holiday began. The nets and traps discussed here, that potentially become misshapen by the movements of the animals inside, are not fish nets, rather they are more fixed materials that act as traps. Traps for fish were shaped like an elongated basket that were placed in the water in a special way so that fish could easily swim into them, but would have a very difficult time making their way out of them.

    While our Gemara bases its analysis of whether the animal was captured before or after the beginning of Yom Tov on the condition of the trap (i.e. when did the hunter discover that it had become misshapen by the animal trapped inside), the Talmud Yerushalmi distinguishes between places where there are many animals and places where there are relatively few. In an area where there are many animals, the hunter can rely on the assumption that the animal became trapped in a relatively short time after the trap was put down.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3447

  25. Beitza 25a-b – Proper etiquette

    Rami bar Abba teaches that just as the Torah commands that every animal sacrifice be flayed (skinned) and cut up (see, for example, Vayikra 1:6), similarly a butcher should first skin and cut up the animal before allowing anyone to eat from it. This falls into the category of derekh eretz – appropriate behavior- that is encouraged by the Sages, even though there are no issues of halakha forbidding it.

    The teaching of etiquette is not limited to Rami bar Abba. The Gemara quotes baraitot that recommend eating and drinking in a slow deliberate manner, indicating – as Rashi and the Me’iri point out – that even the early tanna’im felt that these matters needed to be emphasized. One baraita teaches that someone who eats an onion or garlic should not eat it from its roots, rather he should eat it from its leaves; eating it beginning with the roots is the sign of a glutton. The Me’iri explains that eating it “from its leaves” means that a person is obligated to peel off the outer leaves before eating, which slows down the process. Similarly, a person should not gulp down his drink all at once, nor should he drink it in many small sips that make him appear overly sensitive.

    In another teaching, Rami bar Abba praises the hatzuva as a plant that defends against evil people. The hatzuva is identified as the sea squill – urginea maritima – a plant from the lily family whose roots project deep into the ground. It was customary to plant sea squill on the edges of fields as boundary markers because the roots grow straight down without spreading out. This protected the field owner against those who would overstep and infringe on their property.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3448

  26. Beitza 26a-b – Eating a behor on Yom Tov

    A first-born animal – a behor – is considered to be holy to the Temple (see Shmot 13:12). In the event that the animal develops a permanent blemish – a mum – then it is no longer kodesh and it can be eaten normally by kohanim.

    Since under normal circumstances a behor cannot be eaten, it is not considered an animal that is ready for use on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, the Mishnah (25b) teaches that according to Rabbi Yehuda, in the event that a behor falls into a cistern, an expert can be lowered into the cistern to check whether the animal has developed a mum. If, in fact, such a mum is present, then the animal can be slaughtered and eaten by kohanim on Yom Tov. Rabbi Shimon disagrees. He believes that unless the mum was recognized before Yom Tov began, the animal cannot be used for food on Yom Tov. Thus there would be no point in having an expert check the animal for a mum on Yom Tov itself so it would be forbidden to do so.

    Several different explanations are suggested to explain the argument between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon. Rashi makes two suggestions:

    1. Ruling that the animal can be eaten is tikkun – it is “fixing” something on Yom Tov – which is forbidden.

    2. Ruling that the animal can be eaten is considered a formal court ruling. Jewish courts neither sit nor rule on cases on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

    Rabbi Yehuda would reject both of those assumptions.

    Tosafot offer another approach. According to Tosafot the main issue in this case is muktze. Since the behor was perfectly healthy at the moment that the holiday began, it was not viewed as edible at that point. Therefore it cannot be considered prepared for use on Yom Tov, even if it develops a mum in the course of the day.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3449

  27. Beitza 27a-b – Examining firstborns on Yom Tov

    As we learned on yesterday’s daf (page), there is a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon regarding the question of checking the status of a behor – a first-born animal – on Yom Tov. The Gemara on our daf, in an attempt to clarify which of the two positions is accepted as the halakhah, relates a number of stories in which this issue is brought to the fore.

    The Gemara relates that Ami of Vardina was the examiner of firstborns in the household of the Nasi. On Festivals he would not examine firstborn blemishes.

    Ami of Vardina is mentioned a number of times in the Talmud. According to Rashi, he is one and the same as “Ami Shefir Na’eh” (Ami, the handsome one). The position that he held was well-respected, since the person who had that role needed to have a deep understanding of animal husbandry and physiology, as well as a broad knowledge of halakhah.

    They came and told Rabbi Ami about this. He said to them: He does well not to examine them. The Gemara raises an objection: Is that so? But didn’t Rabbi Ami himself examine firstborns for blemishes on a Festival? The Gemara answers: When Rabbi Ami would examine the blemishes of firstborns, it was on the day before the Festival that he would examine them, to see whether the blemishes were permanent or temporary. And on the Festival itself he would ask only how the incident occurred, meaning that he would investigate the cause of the blemish.

    The “further examinations” Rabbi Ami performed involved questioning the person who asked for the animal to be checked – and perhaps even taking testimony from others. Current practice is that when a behor is born in a flock of animals owned by a Jewish person, the animal is tended by its owner for the first three months, at which time it is transferred to the kohen. Since today there is no possibility of bringing the behor as a sacrifice, such an animal only has value to the kohen once a mum has been found in it. This reality has led to a situation that kohanim are suspected of placing the animal in a situation where it will easily develop a mum, so the expert who examines the animal must also play the role of prosecutor in an attempt to establish whether the mum was an accidental one or was done purposely.

    The Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 498:9) accepts the conclusion suggested by these stories, and rules like Rabbi Shimon that a behor should not be inspected on Yom Tov to see whether it has developed mumim.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3450

  28. Beitza 28a-b – Sharpening the knife

    Since we are allowed to prepare food on Yom Tov, in the event that fresh meat is needed, slaughtering an animal would be permitted. (It is worthwhile to note that the only way meat could be kept fresh during Talmudic times – prior to the invention of refrigeration – was by keeping the animal alive until it was to be cooked.) Shehitah – ritual slaughtering – must be done with a specially prepared knife that is perfectly smooth with no chinks or nicks. The Mishnah on our daf (page) forbids sharpening a knife on Yom Tov, but the Gemara permits it under certain circumstances.

    Rav Yosef rules that a knife which became dull can be sharpened, as long as it still can cut meat, even if it can only do so with some difficulty. Rashi explains that if it can no longer cut at all, sharpening it would involve serious labor that should not be done on the holiday. The Ba’al ha-Ma’or argues that such a knife no longer serves its purpose, and is therefore no longer considered a utensil. Sharpening it would create a new utensil on Yom Tov, which is certainly forbidden.

    Another question that is raised is whether the shohet can present his knife to the community rabbi on Yom Tov. The Gemara records a disagreement in this case between Rav Mari brei d’Rav Bizna, who permits it, and the Rabbanan, who forbid it.

    The obligation for the shohet who slaughters animals for the community to show his knife to the local scholar is a Rabbinic ordinance instituted both to ensure that kashrut is scrupulously kept and to honor the community rabbi. This tradition came to an end many years ago. Although during Talmudic times any individual could perform shehitah, later on only professionals who studied the laws carefully were allowed to do it and were certified by the community Rabbis as experts who no longer needed further approval. Nevertheless, in some communities – particularly Hassidic communities – this practice is still followed to this day.

    Regarding the discussion in our Gemara, the R”if explains that we may forbid the scholar to check knives on Yom Tov because we fear that the knife will be carried outside the 2000-cubit city limit. According to the Re’ah, the problem is that the scholar checking the knife plays the role of a judge, and courts are not allowed to operate on Yom Tov. The Rambam’s explanation is that if the knife is found to have a nick, the shohet may come to sharpen it, which is, as we learned in the Mishnah, forbidden.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3451

  29. Beitza 29a-b – Weights and measures on Yom Tov

    Because we are able to prepare food on Yom Tov, it is possible for people to find themselves in a situation in which they discover that essential ingredients for the meal are missing. Obviously they can go to their neighbors, borrow raw ingredients, and return them after Yom Tov is over. The last few Mishnayot in our perek (chapter) relate to such transactions.

    The last Mishnah in the perek teaches that a person can go to his local storekeeper and ask for a specific number of nuts or eggs – that he intends to pay for after the close of the holiday – even though previous Mishnayot limit the permissibility of having him weigh meat (28a, b) or measure out liquids (29a).

    The Tosafot R”id explain the difference as being whether the agreement appears to be a business transaction or simply a neighborly agreement. Weights and measures – especially when connected with a specific value (like the case in the Mishnah on 28b: “weigh for me a dinar’s worth of meat”) – are clearly business-related and are forbidden on Yom Tov since they are “weekday activities.” Counting out a certain amount of eggs or fruit is an everyday household activity, which does not carry with it the stigma of commerce, and would thus be permitted.

    It is interesting to note that at least some of these discussions are not specific to Yom Tov. The P’nei Yehoshua points out that the discussion, found in the Mishnah on our daf (page), of whether a person can say “fill up this jug for me” if it is a measuring utensil, may be an appropriate question for Shabbat as well as for Yom Tov, since it is not specifically related to an issue of food preparation. As such, he asks, why is this Mishnah placed in Massekhet Beitza and not in Massekhet Shabbat?

    Several answers are suggested in response to this question. The Bigdei Yom Tov, for example, argues that, given the leniencies permitted with regard to food preparation on Yom Tov, we could logically conclude that we should allow for these activities, as well. It is therefore essential for the Mishnah to teach that weighing and measuring appear so much like forbidden business activities that we cannot permit them on Yom Tov, even for essential food preparation.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3452

  30. Beitza 30a-b – To show that it’s not everyday business

    Even those activities that are permitted on Yom Tov were limited by the Talmudic Sages in a variety of ways to ensure that people would respect the holiness of the day, lest it turn into another day of mundane activities. The passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13) emphasizes the need to limit activities that are overly strenuous or take place in public settings and appear to be in conflict with the spirit of the day, even if they are permitted according to the letter of the law.

    The fourth perek (chapter) of Massekhet Beitza – perek ha-Mevi – deals with these issues. The opening Mishnah (29b) rules that a person who needs to transport kadei yayin – jugs of wine – should not carry them in a basket (a sal or a kupa); rather, they should be carried on one’s shoulder. Similarly, someone who needs to move a basket of straw on Yom Tov should not sling it onto his back, but should carry it in his hand. The general principle here is that transporting merchandise, even if it is needed for the holiday, cannot be done in the ordinary manner; rather, it should be carried in an out-of-the-ordinary manner to indicate that this is not everyday business, but is necessary for Yom Tov.

    Based on this ruling, in Mehoza, where Rava was the community leader, the following regulations were instituted:
    •People who ordinarily carry a heavy burden on their own (b’duhaka) should use a simpler carrying pole (ragla).
    •People who ordinarily use a carrying pole should have a second person assist them with it (b’agra).
    •One who ordinarily carries a burden on his shoulders together with a second person should switch to a pole that is carried by hand (akhpa)
    •If the hand pole is the normal way of carrying, then the object being carried should be covered with a sudara (scarf).

    The Me’iri explains that the sudara, which acts to cover up what is being carried, makes the statement that the mover does not want to publicize the fact that he needs to transport this vessel on Yom Tov.

    (For more information on vessels used in Talmudic times, visit http://www.torahmuseum.com.)

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3453

  31. Beitza 31a-b – Chopping wood on Yom Tov

    Since we are allowed to cook on Yom Tov, we are also permitted to add fuel to burning fires. Even so, wood or other fuel that is to be used should be prepared for that purpose before Yom Tov begins; otherwise it is considered muktze – set aside for a purpose other than to be burned. What wood is considered prepared for use as fuel on Yom Tov is the topic of discussion of the Mishnayot on today’s daf (page).

    One of the Mishnayot discusses whether wood can be chopped for use as fuel, even if the wood was prepared for burning before Yom Tov began. As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the crucial question here is whether it appears to be a weekday activity; as such, the suggestion of the Mishnah is to chop the wood in an out-of-the-ordinary manner. Thus, using a kardom (spade), a megerah (saw), or a magal (sickle) is forbidden, while a kopitz (cleaver – a knife for cutting bones) would be permitted.

    It is interesting to note that the act of chopping wood is not, in itself, considered a forbidden act on Yom Tov. Many of the rishonim (Rashi, the R”id, and the Rashba, among others) argue that there is nothing intrinsically forbidden in making a large piece of wood into smaller pieces (unless it were turned into sawdust, in which case it would be forbidden because of the prohibition against grinding). According to this position, the reason some types of implements cannot be used is because they are clearly professional tools, and it appears that the person using them is participating in forbidden weekday activities. The Ra’avad explains that chopping the wood would generally be considered a forbidden activity, but it is permitted on Yom Tov as an essential part of food preparation. We limit the types of tools that can be used only because these activities should really be done prior to the onset of the holiday. Since proper preparations had not been done, the Sages insisted that they can only be done on Yom Tov in an unusual fashion.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3454

  32. Beitza 32a-b – Creating a ner on Yom Tov

    Although today we call a wax candle a ner, during the times of the Mishnah the word ner referred to a clay lamp that held oil and had a spout in which a wick was placed and could be lit. While making a quality clay ner might involve significant work and effort, a simple ner could be made by taking a ball of clay, hollowing out the inside, where the oil was to be poured, and making an indentation in one of the sides that could be used for the wick.

    The Mishnah on our daf (page) teaches that if someone needs a ner for Yom Tov, he cannot be “pohet the ner,” since that would involve creating a utensil on Yom Tov, which is a forbidden activity. What exactly is involved in being pohet the ner is the subject of disagreement among the rishonim.

    •Rashi explains simply that it means to create an indentation in the side of the clay ball, which would allow a wick to be placed in the oil.
    •According to Tosafot, when the potter prepared the ner, he would open a hole for the wick and fill the hole with straw or other materials to keep it open. Removing the straw is considered completing the lamp, which is forbidden.
    •The Rambam explains that the lamps were made in pairs, and after they were fired in an oven, they needed to be separated in order to be considered completed. Separating the lamps on Yom Tov is forbidden.
    •According to the Ran, each lamp had a matching cover that was made to fit perfectly. Opening the cover of the lamp was considered the completion of the lamp.

    As an example of a utensil that cannot be made on Yom Tov, the Gemara presents the case of the ilpasin haraniyyot, or stew pots. These pots are described by the Talmud Yerushalmi as being made originally as one piece of clay. The potter would then cut off the top in order to make a cover, which was returned to the top of the pot in a loose manner. By doing so, when the pot – together with its cover – was placed in the oven to harden, both pieces would expand at the same rate. Thus, when removed, the cover would fit the pot perfectly. Upon purchasing the pot, the buyer would remove the cover with a small knock.

    (For more information on vessels used in Talmudic times, visit http://www.torahmuseum.com.)

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3455

  33. Beitza 33a-b – Creating fire on Yom Tov

    The last several pages of Gemara have been dealing with preparing fuels used for burning on Yom Tov. As we have noted in our studies, burning fuel is permitted, as it is a prerequisite for cooking, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, according to the Mishnah on our daf (page), we are only allowed to add fuel to an existing fire or flame, but not to light a new fire.

    The Mishnah teaches that a fire cannot be “brought out” (that is to say, lit) from wood, stones, dirt, tiles or water. Starting a fire with wood, stones and tiles would all be based on the same basic principles – the creation of heat or sparks by means of friction in the case of wood, or banging stones or tiles against one another (as is still done today in the case of modern cigarette lighters, for example).

    Creating fire out of water means – as Rashi explains – using a water-filled glass instrument that works as a magnifying glass to create great heat by concentrating the sun’s rays on a particular spot.

    There are a variety of explanations regarding how one can start a fire out of dirt. They include the possibility of pouring water on natural lime deposits in order to create a chemical reaction that produces heat, and using the heat created by decomposing organic matter.

    One may not produce new fire on a Festival in any manner. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for this? The Gemara explains: Because he creates [molid] something new on a Festival. This is similar to an act of creation, and it is therefore prohibited.

    The rishonim disagree as to the level of severity of such an activity. The R”iaz, for example, says that it is not truly an act of creation, but since something new is now here, it is forbidden by the Sages. The Rambam’s approach is to say that this is forbidden only because it could have been done before Yom Tov began.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3456

  34. Beitza 34a-b – When food prep is hard work

    In preparing food to eat on Yom Tov, we must be sensitive to the fact that some foods involve so much hard work which can be done prior to the holiday that it is recommended they not be bothered with on Yom Tov or done only in an unusual manner. An example of this is cutting off excess leaves from vegetables, which cannot be done with the scissors that are normally used for this purpose. Even so, foods whose preparation is complicated can be cooked and eaten on Yom Tov. Kundas (artichokes) and akaviyot (cardoon) are examples of such foods. The kundas is identified as Cynara scolymus – the Globe artichoke – a perennial, thistle-like plant that grows to a height of one meter. Akaviyot are identified as Cynara cardunculus – cardoon – which is a member of the thistle family and related to the Globe artichoke.

    Whole Globe artichokes are prepared for cooking by removing all but approximately 5-10 mm of the stem and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors, which removes the thorns that can interfere with the handling of the leaves while eating. And while the flower buds of the cardoon can be eaten much like the artichoke, the stems are generally made edible by blanching, when they are tied together and stored for some time.

    Another type of food that cannot be eaten without effort is nuts. The Gemara quotes a baraita which permits wrapping nuts in cloth and cracking them, even if the cloth will tear. The Ran presents this as a case where several nuts are placed in a covering and broken all at once with a hammer. There is no concern that the cloth will tear, either because there is no intention to tear the cloth, or, as Rashi suggests, this is at worst a case of mekalkel – a destructive activity – which is not forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3457

  35. Beitza 35a-b – Lowering fruit off the roof

    The last chapter of Massekhet Beitza, perek (chapter) mashilin, begins on today’s daf (page). This concluding chapter focuses mainly on two topics:

    1. Actions that are not true creative activities that would be forbidden on Yom Tov, but are, nevertheless, issues that involve a lack of sensitivity to the holiness of the day,

    and

    2. Questions regarding tehumim (boundaries) – that is travel outside the city boundaries, which is ordinarily limited to a 2,000 cubit perimeter around the city.

    The first Mishnah describes a situation that was commonplace in the time of the Talmud, although it is unusual today. In those days, it was customary practice for a person to put fruits on his roof to dry. Such fruits were considered to be muktze – that is to say, they were set aside as fruit that was not to be eaten now, as it was being processed to be saved for future use.

    Obviously, if rains came and those fruits were on the roof, they would be ruined. In such a circumstance, the Mishnah permits the fruits to be lowered in to the house through a skylight on Yom Tov. In his commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam explains that the loss of money brings the Rabbis to permit what would ordinarily be considered a “weekday activity” but only in this specific way, where the skylight goes directly to the ground floor and throwing the fruit down does not involve excessive labor.

    To understand the situation described in the Mishnah, it is important to recognize what a contemporary Roman house looked like. Such houses, which apparently were built in Israel, had an internal courtyard that included a skylight where fires were built below in an oven or fireplace. The roof had flat areas where fruits were commonly laid out to dry. It would have been fairly easy to toss the fruits down into the house by way of that skylight.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3458

  36. Beitza 36a-b – Forbidden activities

    The Mishnah on today’s daf (page) lists a series of different types of activities, all of which are forbidden by the Sages on Yom Tov as well as on Shabbat. The categories are:

    •Shevut – A Rabbinic ordinance, like climbing a tree or riding an animal
    •Reshut – Something that is not always a mitzvah, although it is certainly a good deed, like getting married or trying a court case
    •Mitzvah – Actually fulfilling a commandment, like putting aside tithes or consecrating an object to the Temple

    All of these activities are forbidden by Rabbinic ordinance lest they lead to forbidden activities or because they appear very similar to weekday activities.

    The commentaries discuss why there is a need to create divisions between different types of Rabbinic prohibitions, given that the bottom line is that they are all forbidden on both Shabbat and Yom Tov. One approach is taken by Rabbeinu Tam who argues that there are real differences between the cases, and that the Mishnah is only discussing cases where the activity is not truly obligatory. If, however, a mitzvah will really be fulfilled by this action, then the Sages would permit the mitzvah to be done on Yom Tov. Some suggest that even according to Rashi we will distinguish between the different categories in a case where the act is performed bein ha-shemashot – in the moment when it is still questionable whether the holiday has begun or not. At that moment we will be lenient and allow those activities that are mitzvot to be done.

    The Hatam Sofer argues that the Mishnah must be understood to be saying that these activities are forbidden if they are shevut or reshut from the perspective of the person doing them. If, however, they are being done as a mitzvah, the rule of the Mishnah may not apply.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3459

  37. Beitza 37a-b – Making a pledge on Shabbat and Yom Tov

    Is one permitted to respond to synagogue appeals on Shabbat and Yom Tov?

    In the Mishnah on yesterday’s daf (page) we learned that performing a mitzvah like putting aside tithes or consecrating an object to the Temple would be forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov. On today’s daf, the Gemara explains that the reason the Sages did not permit people to donate to the Temple on Shabbat and Yom Tov is because such contributions appear very similar to business transactions. One of the practical questions that this raises is how can synagogues make appeals – even for good causes – and accept pledges on Shabbat or on Yom Tov?

    Rav Nissim Gaon distinguishes between the case of donations to the Temple and the case of pledging money to charity or other causes. When donating to the Temple, the Talmud has a unique rule that a simple statement of a pledge to the Temple is already an act of transfer of ownership, as opposed to virtually all other cases, where a statement is merely an indication of intent that must be followed up with a formal act of transfer. Thus, someone who responds to an appeal with a pledge is not transferring the money on Yom Tov (which would be forbidden), but simply making a statement that he intends to give money to charity after the holiday (which is permitted).

    This approach helps solve a problem that many of the commentaries raise regarding our Mishnah. The general principle followed by the Sages is ein gozrin gezerah le-gezerah – that we do not create a Rabbinic ordinance to protect against the desecration of another Rabbinic ordinance. Since business transactions are prohibited because we are afraid that it may encourage people to write – an act forbidden on Shabbat or Yom Tov – how can we prevent people from donating to the Temple because of the similarity to business transactions?

    Following the logic of Rav Nissim Gaon, the Ra”ah explains that the case of donating to the Temple is not merely forbidden because of a Rabbinic decree that it appears to be similar to a business transaction. Rather, simply announcing that something is consecrated to the Temple is, itself, a business transaction, since transfer of ownership takes place immediately.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3460

  38. Beitza 38a-b – The limits of traveling

    The Mishnah (37a) teaches that just as a person cannot walk more than 2,000 cubits outside of the city limits (called tehum Shabbat) on Shabbat and Yom Tov, his or her possessions are limited, as well. In Massekhet Eiruvin we learned that by means of an eiruv tehumim – by placing a meal at the edge of the city limits – a person can establish his Shabbat in that place, thus shifting the area that he is allowed to travel to 2,000 cubits around that space. Thus, if a person were to lend something to his friend on Yom Tov, it can only be taken as far as its owner is allowed to walk, even if the borrower has made an eiruv that permits him to travel further than that. One example presented by the Mishnah is a woman who lends water and salt to her friend to bake bread on Yom Tov. The final product will be limited to the extent that it can only be taken to places that both the borrower and the lender themselves could go.

    The Gemara on our daf (page) describes a discussion among the amora’im about this rule. Three Israeli amora’im were discussing this matter (either Rabbi Yohanan, Rabbi Hanina bar Pappi and Rabbi Zeira or else Rabbi Abbahu, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi and Rabbi Yitzhak Nappaha) and queried why this should be true; shouldn’t the water and salt be considered batel – negligible – in the context of the final baked product!?

    Rabbi Abba said to them: If one’s single kav of wheat became mingled with ten kav of another’s wheat, shall the latter eat all eleven kav and rejoice? One does not allow his property to become nullified into someone else’s property. The same applies to water and salt in dough. The Sages laughed at him. He said to them: Did I take your cloaks from you that you are putting me to shame? They again laughed at him.

    This interaction is particularly interesting because the Gemara begins the story with a description of the prayer recited by Rabbi Abba upon embarking on his trip from Babylonia to Israel, in which he expressed his hope that his thoughts and ideas would be accepted by the scholars of Israel. The Hatam Sofer explains that the Sages who lived in Israel recognized their own knowledge of Torah, and often looked down on the Torah that was studied and taught in Babylon, which brought a visiting scholar to be concerned lest his ideas would not be taken seriously.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3461

  39. Beitza 39a-b – How salt and water differ

    As we learned on yesterday’s daf (page), people’s possessions cannot be taken beyond 2,000 cubits of the city limits (called tehum Shabbat) on Shabbat and Yom Tov, just as the person himself is limited by the tehum (boundary). Thus, if a woman lends water and salt to her friend to bake bread on Yom Tov, the final product will be limited in that it can only be taken as far as the borrower and the lender could go themselves. In the Mishnah (37a) Rabbi Yehuda argues that this rule does not apply to water, since it becomes part of the baked product and is no longer considered as having independent significance. Therefore we will not restrict its movement by the limits of the original owner; the borrower who baked the bread can take it wherever she is allowed to go.

    The Gemara on our daf asks why Rabbi Yehuda differentiates between water, which loses its independent significance when baked into bread, and salt which apparently retains its status. Furthermore, a baraita is introduced in which Rabbi Yehuda clearly states that both water and salt become batel – negligible – when baked or cooked and are now part of food.

    To explain the different statements of Rabbi Yehuda, the Gemara explains that there are different types of salt – melah sedomit and melah isterokanit. Melah sedomit is thick and retains its shape, so it can be seen even when baked or cooked. Melah isterokanit is softer and combines with the food to the extent that it can no longer be identified. Thus melah sedomit retains its independent status, while melah isterokanit is considered batel in the food.

    Although many define melah sedomit as sea salt, the Ge’onim identified it as salt that is mined on Mount Sodom itself, and not salt that is taken from the Dead Sea. Such stone salt does not dissolve easily and is readily seen even in cooked products. Melah isterokanit (which was most likely given that name because of the place where it was produced) was made by means of channeling sea water into canals and extracting the salt by means of evaporation. In the time of the Mishnah melah isterokanit was much softer and dissolved more readily that the stone salt.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3462

  40. Beitza 40a-b – He who hung the meat

    As we have discussed on the previous dapim (pages), both a person and his possessions are limited by the rules of tehumim (boundaries) on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Therefore, a person cannot walk more than 2,000 cubits outside of his city on Shabbat or Yom Tov. By creating an eiruv tehumim – a meal placed on the perimeter of the 2,000 cubit limit – he can extend the area that he is permitted to walk 2,000 cubits in that direction (although what he has actually done is shifted the circle in which he is permitted to travel so that its center is no longer in the city, but at one edge of the city limits).

    The Mishnah on our daf teaches that a person who has guests come and visit on Yom Tov from the next city (i.e. they created an eiruv tehumim that allowed them to travel to him; he did not create such an eiruv so neither he nor his possessions can go to their city), cannot give them food to take back home with them, since the food belongs to him and is therefore limited to areas that he is allowed to go to.

    The Gemara relates: Rav Hana bar Hanilai once hung meat on the bar of the door of his host’s house, located outside his own town. He subsequently wondered if he was permitted to take the meat home with him, since he had made an eiruv enabling him to walk from his home to his host’s home. He came before Rav Huna to ask his opinion. Rav Huna said to him: If you yourself hung the meat, go take it, but if your hosts hung it for you, you may not take it.

    From this story, the Gemara wants to try to prove a number of issues regarding the rules of tehum and eiruv on Yom Tov. Its conclusion, however, is that Rav Huna’s ruling did not involve rules of tehum and eiruv and was unique to Rav Hana bar Hanilai who was such a scholar that he regularly focused on his Torah study and paid little attention to mundane goings on around him. Rav Huna ruled that if he had placed the meat on the door himself, he probably had paid attention to it, so it was fine, but if his hosts had put it there, he did not pay sufficient attention to it, and it could not be used.

    Rashi explains that the concern here was for basar she-nitalem min ha-ayin – meat that was not under constant watch. This rule stems from a concern lest the meat be switched with non-kosher meat so the Sages ruled that when such a switch can occur, meat needs to be under constant supervision or else have a symbol attached to it so that it can be recognized as kosher meat. The Me’iri suggests that had he placed the meat on the door he could be certain that it was in the place and position that he had put it, which would have solved the problem. In any case, the Gemara concludes that no rules about tehum and eiruv can be derived from this story, which was concerned with an entirely different matter.

    This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

    http://steinsaltz.org/learning.php?pg=Daf_Yomi&articleId=3463

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *